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January 6, 1989

Consumer Safety Regulation: Putting a Price on Life and Limb

JAMA. 1989;261(1):122-123. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420010134051

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Having grown up with Ralph Nader as the predominant and, at times, the only consumer advocate for safety regulations, I find that this text provides a refreshingly different perspective. It is written by an economist who repeatedly challenges the rationale of the consumer advocates on one side and the government policymakers on the other who fail to incorporate sound economics. A vast portion of this book is spent convincing the reader how frequently economic fundamentals get buried in the emotional battles over many consumer-safety issues.

The book is divided into three parts and eight chapters. The highlight of Part I is an overview of consumer-safety policies in the United States with emphasis on the evolution and impact of the Food, Drug and Safety Act and the Hazardous Substance Labeling Act.

Part II develops the traditional and nontraditional economic arguments for public protection. A chapter is dedicated to how consumer misperception